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AT TIMES, the Eagles’ offense seemed to be shoveling snow with a rake.

But the plays were there when it really mattered, and the Birds ground out a 27-13 victory over the San Francisco 49ers that put Andy Reid’s team in the playoffs for the eighth time in his 11 seasons.

Last week, remember, it was the defense’s turn to make things harder than they needed to be. That unit came out determined to make amends yesterday. The 49ers went 0-for-11 on third downs and turned the ball over four times in the first half, which ended with the Eagles up, 20-3.

Had the Birds’ offense been in a similar mode, everyone could have gone home and gotten warm early in the third quarter, but Donovan McNabb was way less sharp than he has been lately, and San Francisco, which came in clinging to frayed playoff possiilities at 6-7, actually got within 20-13 before McNabb used his get-out-of-jail free card, hitting DeSean Jackson on third-and-2 for 59 yards of the 89 the Eagles traveled in their clinching drive.

Reid carefully praised his 10-4 team afterward for “working through that game,” which isn’t quite the same thing as saying, “Boy, we sure played great.”

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